It is all too easy to fall into these traps when selling. Some of you may well have experienced these already; they will be painfully obvious and clear to you. However, sometimes you may also be unaware that you have slipped up or missed some opportunities. There are many I could have selected! Here are five of the most common clangers:
Classic clanger no.1: can happen at that first contact. Maybe you have contacted who you think is an ideal prospect, but they turn out to be uninterested or have no need for what you are offering. This is down to sales & marketing preparation: did you find out enough about them before contacting? Are you talking to the right person?
Remedy: If you haven’t already, plan your approach and START asking them questions!
Classic clanger no.2 Perhaps they stop you in mid pitch, to point out that your offer doesn’t match their need. Did you ask enough questions? Are you too eager to talk about your product and haven’t taken the time to qualify their need by asking simple questions?
Remedy: Start asking now!
Classic clanger no.3 Did you make your pitch and then give them time to consider? If you went back to them over a week later you may find they have gone elsewhere for the product. Unfortunately, customer memory is very short and someone else can end up benefitting from the sale.
Remedy: Agree with them the best time for the follow-up. If you are unsure, call in a couple of days; not necessarily to ask for the business, but to check they are still happy with the offer or if they need more help to decide.
Classic clanger no. 4 You are being pushed on price but you have no more room to manoeuvre. You’re stuck! You don’t have to ‘take a hit or walk away’.
Remedy: Have a contingency; an extra something you can throw into the mix to move the situation forward. This could be more product, or a related product, or an extra service; ideally, anything that costs you little, but will be seen as good value by the customer.
Classic clanger no.5 ‘Let me know if and when you are ready to order from us’. THIS IS NOT A LEGITIMATE CLOSE! If you leave the deal like this, the most likely outcomes are: they will forget all the good things about doing business with you; they will be persuaded to buy from someone else; they will delay their decision or even the project.
Remedy: Don’t be afraid to close! If it’s the wrong time, ask them when. Better still; ask them what more you need to do to win the business, then do it!
These are just some of the classic clangers that are easy to make when selling, and suggestions for how to prevent or remedy them. As with everything, just a few simple techniques and selling skills can make all the difference when it comes to increasing your success and improving your business ‘conversion rate’.
If you’ve dropped a clanger, or are wondering why you don’t win as much business as you deserve, call Andy at Salient.
Not good at selling? Join our ISMM courses in sales & marketing.
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For more details please call or email Andy at Salient.
5 GOOD REASONS TO PRACTICE ‘THE FOLLOW-UP’ / ‘FOLLOW-THROUGH’ / ‘FOLLOW-ON’
Whatever you call it, this is one of the most important activities in sales and marketing, in fact, in business as a whole.
Whenever I gain a new customer, among the many things I ask them is how and why they chose me.
This is a common-sense approach that can often elicit huge insight. From the responses I have received, the main reason I was chosen was that I had actually ‘followed-up’ my proposal or quotation. Strange as it may seem, there are many businesses that simply don’t bother. In fact, too often I hear of companies that do not even respond to a request for a quotation! This is very un-professional to say the least, and wastes good business opportunities.
Take my recent contract to train a sales team in France. They had approached four companies; two French and two English. They did not say how many had responded with a proposal, but apparently, I was the only one to follow-up my quotation! Needless to say, during the subsequent conversations I was able to match my product to their need and I won the contract.
So, why follow-up and how can it help to make the sale?
1/ Helps to build the personal relationship
2/ Is an opportunity to learn more about the prospect and build this into your approach
3/ Gives you the chance to make further adjustments to your quotation, making it even closer to their need, and to differentiate yourself from the competition
4/ Provides another opportunity to try and arrange to meet up, as the face-to-face approach generally is far more successful than trying to win business by ‘phone
5/ Is a chance to open negotiation, aiming to close the deal and win the business
It is wise to try and monitor and manage these follow-ups to ensure that no opportunities are missed. I use a simple spreadsheet I call my ‘Opportunity Log’. It lists contacts that I believe should be nurtured and followed up as I have identified potential for:
- New business
- Support for, or supply to my business
How soon should you follow-up? I would normally say within 2 to 3 days of the initial contact. If in doubt, ask or suggest. ‘Can I get back to you about this on…/in a couple of days?’ They are then duty bound to read it, as, when you call or visit, you are likely to be asking questions!
If you’ve left them something to think about, don’t waste the opportunity, follow-up and make sure you win the business.
I am often asked; “How much should you be prepared to give away before you start charging for goods and services?” In a nutshell, my advice is always:
“ Give until they get it”
In other words, give them small pieces, sufficient for them to get the point; for them to appreciate the value you offer, to understand your business, and the advantage they will gain from working with you. It is also important to manage expectations. Agree the point when you need to start charging and make sure they understand the mutual commitment between you; you provide them with something they value and they pay you for the benefits this brings. Don’t forget, you are in business; you are there to make money, to make a profit.
This whole concept was turned somewhat on its head last week when I had a call from the Business Growth Show. Was I interested in speaking at the next show in Swindon in July? I always enjoy speaking and it’s great to impart some wit and wisdom relating to sales. We talked of the date, the content (he felt it should be in some depth….and then he said, “oh, by the way, there is a charge related to this” Apparently, previous delegates had been disappointed with some speakers and felt they had not received good value. The clear and obvious solution would be for them to find better speakers. But BGS in their wisdom, had decided to charge the speakers £500+VAT for the privilege of giving away, ‘in depth’ valuable insight, for the benefit of their delegates!! To me this is a strange way of securing a higher calibre of speaker. I have heard that a speaking opportunity can be offered as part of an exhibiting package, but never before have I heard of charging the speaker to give away their expertise! I declined, politely.
In summary, whenever you make a sales pitch or presentation;
- Be clear in what you are offering
- Manage expectations on both sides
- Be prepared to give, up to a pre-agreed point
- Then sell
Unless you manage expectations in this way, you may well experience embarrassment or even a ‘nasty surprise’ further along the sales process. You may even lose the business.
DON’T PANIC – KEEP SELLING!
As many of you know, I am dead against ‘pressure selling’. There is no need for it.
It is counter-productive in that you may win the order, but you won’t win their loyalty, their referrals, or their repeat business, and pressure-selling probably makes them a bit cross!
It gives Sales a bad name. I still come across people who are are at least suspicious of sales and sometimes even anti-sales.
To counter this, I used to promote a more hand-holding approach to sales that generated more respect and credibility. it was more successful, but it was not infallible. One reason for this was the ‘fence-sitters’. We have all met them; they are those who know they need what you have to offer, but still dither and appear afraid of investing in their own business.
I now promote what I call ‘Challenging Sales’; nothing like pressure sales, but not totally customer-hugging either. It offers a diplomatic challenge to prospective customers that can wipe out all their objections.
This is still ethical selling, but it uses techniques in ethical influencing to ensure the best rate of sales conversion.
If you want to know how this can work for you, go-on, don’t sit on the fence; I challenge you to talk to Salient!